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A Case for Scent Products

Mark Romanack

Species like this steelhead have a very refined sense of smell that helps them find food. Using natural scent products like Pro Cure Super Gel has helped the Fishing 411 Team consistently catch fish everywhere they travel.

Fishing scents have been around almost as long as there have been fishermen. I’m pretty sure even Peter, Andrew, James and John from the Bible were using fish scent to help feed their families.

It’s no secret that fish have a highly advanced sense of smell. Some species like salmon can actually detect scent in the water down to parts per billion! Other species like catfish depend almost exclusively on their sense of smell to find food.

What about sight feeders like walleye, bass, pike and panfish? How important is scent in their constant search for food? Sight feeders primarily use their sense of sight to find food, but scent also plays a role. For these species scent becomes a confidence factor. Things that look like food and also smell like food, are going to get treated like food.

The Fishing 411 TV crew first got serious about using fishing scents several years ago when I met Steve Lynch of Pro Cure Bait Scents. I was fortunate enough to be invited to tour their facility in Salem, Oregon. What I learned is that Pro Cure has been making fishing scents and bait products since 1984. I also learned that for fishing scent to work effectively, the first step is to eliminate unnatural scents on lures and baits that can actually spook fish.


As fishermen our hands, baits and tackle are often contaminated with a host of unnatural scents such as gasoline, sunscreen, insect repellent, tobacco odor and many other scents that do not attract fish. The way to control these unnatural scents is to wash your hands, fishing lures and tackle products in a mild solution of a scent free soap such as Lemon Joy. It’s important to select the “non-ultra” or bleach free formula.

Once your lures and tackle are scent free, applying a natural scent product greatly increases the effectiveness of any hard bait, soft plastic, cut bait and even live bait.


I learned a lot from Steve Lynch, but perhaps the most important piece of information he shared was the idea of using natural scent products that are made from real baitfish. For example, in the Great Lakes the primary forage specie targeted by trout and salmon are alewife. Using Pro Cure’s Alewife Super Gel when targeting salmon and Great Lakes trout makes your lures and baits smell exactly like what the fish are naturally feeding on.

For another species like smallmouth bass that routinely feed on crayfish, using a natural crayfish scent is going to produce the best results. This tidbit of knowledge quickly had me researching respective bodies of water to determine what forage species are the most prevalent at different times of year.

For me the light bulb finally went off when I started using Gizzard Shad Pro Cure Super Gel on Saginaw Bay in the late fall. At this time of year Saginaw Bay walleye are feeding almost exclusively on Gizzard Shad. Literally from the first day I first started adding this scent to my crankbaits, catch rates skyrocketed.

To prove the Super Gel was the difference we started running Super Gel on one side of the boat and simply clean washed lures on the other. The baits that were treated with Super Gel consistently out produced the clean lures two to one!

The Fishing 411 crew first started using Pro Cure scent products for trout and salmon fishing. The success they enjoyed had them quickly applying the same scent practices to walleye, bass, pike and even panfish.


The goal when using scent products should be to establish a natural and also long lasting scent stream in the water. Unfortunately, most scent products on the market are water soluble and wash off your lures almost as quickly as they are applied.

Super Gel is a greasy and sticky emulsion that once applied to hard baits, soft baits, cut bait or live bait puts out a natural scent stream for 30 to 40 minutes before it needs to be re-applied.

Hands down a favorite scent for salmon fishing is Super Gel Bloody Tuna. When using cut plugs like this SpinFish, we fill the hollow bait with as much Super Gel as we can get inside! This sets up a long lasting and natural scent stream in the water.


In the process of catching fish, your lures are going to get contaminated with blood and fish slime. Taking a few seconds to clean the lure after catching a fish, then re-applying fresh scent before resetting the lure will also pay huge dividends. Most anglers are in a big hurry and immediately reset a lure that just caught a fish. Taking the simple step of cleaning the lure and adding fresh scent works magic at keeping the bites coming.


At the end of a busy day of fishing with natural scent products, lures, attractors and other tackle that was treated with scent must be cleaned before storing. Lemon Joy and a soft scrub brush will remove most of the scent residue. A squirt of WD40 and a little light brushing will also cut the greasy residue. For stubborn clean up projects, drop the lure in a jar with a little liquid WD40 and swish it around for a few moments before washing again with Lemon Joy.

Bad Azz Hand/Lure Soap another product produced by Pro Cure is also a handy way to keep your hands free of unnatural scent. This soap can be applied without water like a hand sanitizer and does an excellent job of keeping your hands ready for handling lures and gear.


To get the desired benefit from fishing scents requires making sure your lures are as clean and scent free as possible before applying scent. At the end of the day, using scent also means you have the obligation of cleaning those lures. Yes, using scent products is more work.

Cutting corners is not the answer when it comes to using scent products. Start with clean lures, use natural scent products, pick scents that match the hatch and take the time to clean lures between bites. Those who follow this regiment will be amazed at the rewards of using fishing scent. Those who cut corners, simply don’t have the faith it takes to give fishing scent an honest try.

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